The President of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), Engr. Abednego Galadima has accused indigenous airlines of treating air travellers poorly as the hazy weather across Northern Nigerian states continues to disrupt flight services.
Speaking during an interview with Nairametrics, Engr. Galadima said that the airlines have continued to violate Part 19 of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA) Consumer Protection Regulation.
The alleged violation: Galadima explained that many times, passengers are delayed or their flights cancelled without prior knowledge and without adherence to consumer protection regulations.
Besides, he emphasised that airlines are informed ahead of weather conditions at either departing or arriving points, stressing that with such, flight delays or cancellations should be minimised.
He, however, said that adverse weather conditions were not limited to Nigeria alone, stressing that countries in Europe and the United States (US) are also affected by the poor condition, despite their advanced technology. He said:
“With the improvement in technology and investment in infrastructure, one expects that the delay, diversion and cancellation would be minimal, but a lot is involved to have a smooth flying at this period of the year and I know we are just having some of that equipment in place.
“For instance, there is the issue of training and adequacy of the equipment. Are the equipment adequate to cover the level of the flight, in any case, the airlines too will have to comply with their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on weather minima?
“But one expects that with proper planning, some of these things should not be transferred to the passengers because they get heads-up of some of these weather reports. So, the delay should not be such that it affects the passengers as the case may be.
“However, The airlines should be able to take care of the passengers according to the consumer protection rules as spelt out by the NCAA. I have been affected on a few occasions and the airlines never took care of us. At the time, we were on our own and I had to go by road to Kaduna State by road from Jos after about two days of waiting. The airline in question never compensated us. This thing is still happening.”
What NCAA’s regulation says: Part 19 of the NCAA’s regulation addresses consumer protection issues, including, compensations for denied boarding, delays and cancellations of flights.
The NCAA states that for domestic flights, when an airline reasonably expects a flight to be delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure, it should provide the passengers with the reason(s) for the delay within 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time. It should also assist the passengers.
For instance, the NCAA said if a flight is delayed for up to two hours, such a carrier is expected to provide refreshments and telephone calls, Short Message Service (SMS) and e-mails as specified in section 19.10.2.
Also, it said if a flight is delayed beyond three hours, it is expected to reimburse the passengers, while if it extends beyond 10 pm till 4 am, or at a time when the airport is closed at the point of departure or final destination, the airline should provide hotel accommodation and transport to the affected passengers.
NCAA asked to intervene: Galadima, charged the NCAA to walk the talk by ensuring strict adherence to the Consumer Protection Regulation, while also giving appropriate sanctions to defaulting carriers.
In case you missed it: Recall that many of the airlines that operate to the northern states in the country, like Air Peace, Max Air, Azman, Green Africa and Overland Airways have had their flights cancelled, diverted, delayed or rescheduled due to adverse weather conditions.
Hundreds of passengers have in the last week been stranded across the country due to poor visibility.
The northern parts of the country are currently experiencing shades of cloudy and foggy conditions, while flights to southern parts were not affected so far by the poor weather.
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), has persistently predicted dust and hazy weather and poor visibility of two to five kilometres and less than 1,000 meters over the entire country in the last few weeks.
The agency, like the NCAA, has been warning pilots against adverse weather situations that could affect flight operations.
NCAA also went further to solicit the understanding of passengers over delays and cancellations of flights due to adverse weather.
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